I’ve been fighting in support of a quality education for children in public schools many years now. That includes opposing the dumbed down Common Core Standards to supporting a parent’s right to replace objectionable materials assigned to their children.
My goal has always been to support academic excellence, literacy and parental rights. However, I can’t do this by myself. Parents need to demand the same from their local school officials.
The recent revelation that Portsmouth High School’s geometry teacher danced around her classroom dressed up as Donald Trump, to a song that says, “F” Donald Trump, is another example of how important it is for parents to get involved in their local school district.
According to a parent whose children attend PHS, students earn extra credit for buying condoms. Health class turned from one that teaches children about nutrition and the four food groups, to one that promotes risky behavior. Promoting risky behavior at PHS doesn’t address the emotional harm that many teens feel when they are engaging in sex.
Sexually Active Teenagers Are More Likely to Be Depressed and to Attempt Suicide, the emotional impact on children who are engaging in sex is highlighted when teens undermine their emotional well being. There are “psychological and emotional problems associated with teenage sexual activity.”
From the PHS Student Handbook:
How does handing out condoms and giving extra credit to students who are engaging in this behavior do anything to help them emotionally? How does this help them identify where the depression and thoughts of suicide are coming from? Would parents see a problem with this if the school handed their children a key to a hotel room too? Will the school provide a clean commode for a child suffering from bulimia? Shouldn’t the school focus on the root cause of their suffering?
We all have to deal with the reality of teenagers engaging in risky behavior, but schools do not have to give a mixed message that it’s ok.
Are they really showing students respect when they send a message of acceptance to a risky behavior that harms many children emotionally? Their own policy contradicts the actions from the teacher dancing, the music allowed in the classroom, to handing out condoms knowing the emotional damage the follows that risky behavior.
Here is what their own policy states:
Teachers are not perfect and they will use bad judgement from time to time. However, in any institution, the leader sets the tone. Given some of what is coming out of PHS, one has to start questioning the leadership.
A teacher in Litchfield, NH years ago assigned “The Crack Cocaine Diet” to her high school students. Many parents questioned the quality of education their children were receiving because of the poor quality of literature and it was written on a 5th grade reading level.
A good school administrator makes it known when something is unacceptable so teachers understand their boundaries.
A 15 year old who is taught by adults to buy a condom, may see that as a sanction to engage in sex. However giving those students facts and information on how disease is spread, that condoms can fail and that children need to treat each other with respect and dignity, can have positive and long lasting effects.
Try to find a 15 year old that doesn’t know how condoms work. Then ask a 15 year old girl if she’s been told by her health teacher that she’s worthy of being treated with respect and dignity.
When we send our kids to school, we expect teachers and administrators to use good judgement. We expect them to teach our kids the academics so they can make informed choices. Turning a geometry class into a side show or giving extra credit to students for buying condoms doesn’t elevate the literacy in that school. Illiteracy is never good and it puts the child at risk of being exploited.
I would be outraged if this teacher was dressed like Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton and danced to vulgar music in front of my children. It’s up to parents to demand that their elected school board members higher a leader in their school district who prioritize literacy, promotes good behavior and sets clear boundaries for their teachers. Until parents demand better from their local schools, the continued path to dumb down your children will continue. This doesn’t elevate public education, and that’s something we should all be working towards.
Ann Marie Banfield currently volunteers as the Education Liaison for Cornerstone Action in New Hampshire. She has been researching education reform for over a decade and actively supports parental rights, literacy and academic excellence in k-12 schools. You can contact her at: [email protected]